Light Off or On?

It’s “that” time of year again – when it gets dark well before dinner time and even before cocktail time! Daylight Saving Time ends tomorrow, so remember to change your clocks. Darkness will continue to come earlier every day for the next seven weeks when Winter officially begins on December 21, the shortest day of the year. But then the cycle will start all over again, and the days grow longer.

As the seasons change so do our environment and our community. About a year ago, I heard this humorous comment about seasonal changes: “Up North, you know Fall is approaching because the leaves change color. Here, you know Fall is approaching because the license plates change color.

Just look around. Every day you’ll see new colors. We accept those changes because there is nothing we can do about them as the pages of the calendar continue to move, and the planets continue to travel around the sun.

But there is another significant event at this time of year. And we can influence the changes that will occur. This coming Tuesday is Election Day. How we conduct our business, how we live our lives, and how we educate our children will be decided by what we do – by how we cast our vote.

Many people have already voted, but for most eligible voters that opportunity is still a few days away.

Unfortunately, many of those people will choose not to vote. What a shortsighted action to take!

Not casting a vote is abdicating responsibility to those who do vote. Non-votes often justify their decision by saying, “What difference does it make?” “They (the politicians) are all alike.” “I can’t be bothered.” “I’m too busy right now.”

But not casting a vote is like getting into the back seat of your car, handing the keys to a total stranger and saying, “Take me anywhere you want to go – and I’ll pay for the gas.”

I can’t think of anyone who would do that. But giving up one’s right to vote is precisely that. It’s giving other people control over what we want, like, plan for, and deserve. By not voting, we give other people our “car keys” and allow them to make decisions that influence our businesses, our finances, and our way of life – and we pay for all the gas. Not voting is abstaining, and in Robert’s Rules of Order an abstention is actually a vote that is given away. It is siding with the majority.

It’s interesting to note we have the Right to vote, but as we learned in school (hopefully) the other side of a Right is a Responsibility. As citizens and as businesspeople we have the duty to behave responsibly toward out society. When we don’t participate in the election process we have no license to complain about outcomes or about decisions.

If someone decides not to vote next week – so be it. That person has given up the option to criticize and to find fault with governing bodies and individuals. Those who shirk the responsibility in essence “give away the car keys.”

Centuries ago, in “Julius Caesar”, Shakespeare had Cassius say, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” That’s true today.
Actions count! Inaction counts just a strongly.

To some, this might sound like “flag waving” but I proudly believe we are fortunate to have the right to vote. Many paid a high price to assure we have that right and it’s irresponsible to ignore it. Too many places throughout the world don’t offer that right, and other places are fighting hard to remove it – to take it away from those who do have it.

I find it hard to understand how anyone can ignore or misuse our powerful weapon of self-determination. Abusing or ignoring that freedom has long tern implications for all of us personally and for our businesses.

Remember this adage next Tuesday, and consider its implications.

“The electorate gets what it deserves.”

In daylight or in darkness next week, I hope to see you at the polls.